It is necessary to point out that, in order to attain a speed of say 80 or more miles per hour on our railways, we would have to scrap the sure that just enough, and no more than just enough, was paid to these Nigerian workers, to enable them to maintain a measure of physical and mental fitness required of people whose role was to obey orders, push the pen, interpret the English language into the vernacular, draw water, hew stone, and, withal, look upon the white man as a god!
As we have shown, what goes for Government services goes for the business houses as well. One important difference should, however, be noted. Because their sole object was to make as big a profit as possible, European merchants and businessmen were always more inclined and more ready to encourage Nigerian talent, whenever they found one, to exercise a reasonable degree of initiative and independent judgment in any assignment given to him, and to reward him accordingly. By contrast, however, under the colonial administration, unquestioning obedience, cringing, and fawning, on the part of Nigerian civil servants, often counted more towards personal advancement than efficiency and initiative.
The result of all these is that, when we took over from the British, we inherited, at the senior service level both in government and in business, a salary structure strictly related to the economic and social circumstances which obtained in Britain and, at the junior and daily paid worker’s level, salary and wage structures which were strictly related to the appalling conditions which obtained in Nigeria at a time when our community was just emerging from primitive barter economy and slavery, and from the ravages of inter-tribal wars.
The Nigerian merchants and middlemen, who were among the most educated and most enlightened few in our Society, lost no time in exploiting the ignorance of their people as well as the complete lack of effective communications in all parts of the country. Quite legitimately but unpatriotically and unashamedly, they constantly and deliberately manipulated and rigged the market in export farm products and imported goods, and considerably enriched themselves at the expense of the farming classes, petty traders, and low-income workers. In spite of the passage of time, these nefarious methods of old are still being practised by Nigerian merchants and middlemen on a grander though more sophisticated scale, with the consequent further widening of the gap between the rich and the poor in our community.
It is our bounden duty, for the sake of new Nigeria, to make a clean break with all these ugly, evil, degrading, and dangerous legacies. And it is to this end that I am advocating the rationalization of the salaries and remunerations paid to or received by different classes of employed and self-employed persons, with a view to drastically reducing the existing gap between the higher and lower income groups.
In doing this exercise, five classes of people will have to be considered:
(i) those employed in the services of the government and its agencies;
(ii) those employed in the private sector;
(iii) • self-employed persons;
(iv) landlords, and
In regard to the first and second classes, the approach should be to appoint a team of experts to do a scientific classification and evaluation of employments, and recommend new salary and wage structures which will be in keeping with the socialist system that we want to see established in the people’s republic of Nigeria. In this connection, faithful regard will have to be paid to well-known job evaluation factors such as (1) educational qualifications, (2) period of training, (3) mental aptitude, (4) physical fitness, (5) degree of responsibility required, and (6) conditions of work, all of which vary from occupation to occupation, from vocation to vocation, and from profession to profession.
After all these shall have been done, the new gradings, salaries etc., as approved, should be enacted in an Act or Acts of Parliament.
Concerning self-employed persons, none of them should be allowed to keep any income higher than that received by the highest paid person in the public or private sector. In other words, a self-employed person can make as much money as he can, but whatever he earns in cash or kind in excess of the permissible maximum would be taxed out of his hands.
In Chapters 6-8 of The People’s Republic, I have sufficiently dealt with rent and interest which are the incomes of the landlord and the rentier, respectively. Because both of these species of income are unearned, I have advocated their abolition. It is the modus operandi of such abolition that I now discuss.
It is my considered view that there should be no confiscation or expropriation of existing buildings or landed properties which are used exclusively or mainly for hire. But the emergence and growth of new landlordism should be prohibited and resolutely discouraged by every possible means in the people’s republic of Nigeria.
As regards existing landlords, the policy should be that, on their death, their buildings and landed properties should automatically be vested in the Government of the State in which the buildings and present narrow guage of 3ft 6 inches and go for a standard or broad guage of 4ft 81/2 inches or 5ft 6 inches. But this change would entail the scrapping of our present rolling-stock, or the complete re-construction of their axles, either of which together with the new guage, would be extremely expensive-several times more expensive than £34,000 per mile. Hence, the wisdom of contenting ourselves, for the time being, with the relaying and realignment of our existing rail lines.
There is also an urgent need for the widening and realignment of some of our Trunk A roads and bridges. In their present state, they constitute prolific sources of waste-both of human lives and of capital invested in motor vehicles. If at least the heavily trafficked portions of our Trunk A roads are widened and realigned, the lives of our motor vehicles would be lengthened, and the consequent reduction in the rate of accident would economize investment in road transport, and reduce the number of deaths on our roads.
CONTINUES NEXT WEEK.
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